Teri Kanefield Profile picture
Author, lawyer (UC Berkeley) Book prizes include the Jane Addams Book Award. Op-Ed Contributor to The Washington Post, NBC THINK & others. I write lots of stuff
SocialMediaWarriorForABlueAmerica Profile picture Joanna (ze/zir/zey) Profile picture Bill Jackson III 🖥 🦅🌊🗽 🇺🇸 Profile picture Lenny Marlow Profile picture Homac Profile picture 342 added to My Authors
4 Aug
My latest for the Washington Post:

Trump's lawyer made a short statement about why the IRS shouldn't have to hand over Trump's taxes to Congress.

That statement contained 4 huge errors.

I explained the errors.
(Who's thinking: "Wait. Only four?"🤣)
Ha. Well. Trump's lawyers now filed in court. The doc is here: cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2021/image…

The original complaint is here: waysandmeans.house.gov/sites/democrat…

Hmmm ... did they make the same bogus arguments to a judge?

reading now . . .
Basically, they're just denying that Congress has a valid legislative reason for requesting the taxes.

Trump is on extremely weak footing and I don't expect this to go far.
Read 8 tweets
3 Aug
As @ruthbenghiat explains in her book on Strongmen, autocrats and would-be autocrats tend to come to power when they have the backing of conservative "elites."

They tend to lose power when they lose the backing of the conservative elites.
So just as these conservative elites are at least partly responsible for the fact that Trump came to power in the first place, it's also true that his coup failed because enough of them put on the breaks.

This was written by a Republican: Image
Read 6 tweets
1 Aug
The Republican leadership is literally cultivating a lawless, rule-breaking base bent on undermining the government.

Here⤵️I rely on scholarship from sociology and an analysis of the groups that make up the Republican coalition to explain why.

Here's a transcript if you prefer to read: terikanefield.com/why-they-are-a…

Also, the video itself contains a transcript.

After I refill my ☕️ I'll come back and attempt a concise Twitter summary.

It should be obvious that the Republican leadership is deliberately cultivating a lawless, rule-breaking base bent on undermining the government, but I'll attach some evidence . . .

Read 18 tweets
30 Jul
A thousand cuts.

I think the way Trump is most likely to be brought down is through thousand small cuts, each seemingly undramatic.

In lots of small ways, the legal walls are closing in on Trump.

🔹The DOJ ordered the IRS to release his taxes.

🔹The DOJ is refusing to defend Mo Brooks in his lawsuit about inciting the insurrection, which means they'll also refuse to defend Trump.

🔹Trump is being criminally investigated for that phone call to Georgia.

🔹Now Congress is looking into this:

🔹The Trump Org is under indictment. He has loans coming due.

🔹His pick for the Texas election lost.

The list goes on and on.

A thousand cuts is probably better because one dramatic flourish allows him to build sympathy and present himself as a martyr.

Read 9 tweets
29 Jul
Here's how sociologists describe what's happening.

The scholarship cited is here: asanet.org/authentic-appe…

A "crisis of legitimacy" [a group no longer believes the government is legitimate] happens when . . .

🔹One or more social groups experience a “representation crisis” because the political establishment doesn't appear to govern on its behalf, or

🔹An incumbent group experiences a “power-devaluation crisis” when the political establishment appears to favor . . .

. . . new social groups over established groups.

That's fancy language for "they don't like the fact that Blacks, women, and other minorities are moving into positions of power."

When groups don't believe the political establishment has legitimacy, they seek to destroy it.

Read 7 tweets
28 Jul
Chris Christie said something similar last week. He said Republican voters don't want to be "indoctrinated" by the government.

The Republicans are literally cultivating a lawless base bent on undermining the government.
"Normal" is intolerable to them.

That's why they want to destroy the political establishment.

Since 1954, "normal" is a nation moving steadily toward a multi-racial democracy.

They don't think a multi-racial government represents them or is legitimate.
Read 4 tweets
28 Jul
It's also bad news for Trump, who no doubt planned to make the same argument.

(The defense is that the speech these guys gave on Jan. 6 was within the scope of their employment so they're entitled to the DOJ defending them. The DOJ said nope.)
Here's the document: s3.documentcloud.org/documents/2101…
The DOJ is calling his activities "campaigning and electioneering," which isn't part of his duties as a Congressman.

Also "it is no part of the business of the United States to pick sides among candidates in federal elections."

Actually, Trump did make the same argument in this case.

The 14th Amendment (which says that any elected officials who incite insurrection can not run again for office) creates an interesting loop.

If they are guilty of what they're charged with, the DOJ can't defend them.
Read 5 tweets
27 Jul
The full [completely crazy] argument appears to be that Pelosi allowed the insurrection to happen because it would benefit her politically.

Riiiight. Victims generally allow themselves to be brutally attacked because they know it will make their attackers look bad. [sarcasm]🙄
This is what will circulate on right wing media.

People outside of the right wing media bubble need to understand how off-the-rails insane this party has become.

What kind of a mind can even think that up?
After the insurrection, they mede the decision to shield Trump because he controls the "base" and without his "base" they can't win primaries.

Some of them believe every word of this.
Others have made a cynical and ugly political calculation.
Read 4 tweets
25 Jul
Republican Lawbreaking

Have you noticed that Republicans don't mind if their leaders break laws?

In fact, conviction can be a badge of honor in the fight against “liberal corruption.” h/t @michaelscherer

Here, I explain why:
1/ I’ll post a transcript shortly. (Having technical difficulties.)

Republican crimes (and criminology in general) is a huge topic, but here are a few thoughts.

I’ve been tweeting about a lot of this, but I think laying it out this way helps me explain it better.
2/ Putting the blame where the blame belongs: Turns out, it wasn't a technical difficulty. It was me being a computer dork. (No! It was keyboard gremlins making mischief!)

Here's the transcript: terikanefield.com/republican-law…
Read 21 tweets
20 Jul
What a coincidence! Thomas Barrack, another Trump “advisor” and chair of the Presidential Inaugural Committee has been arrested and charged with acting as a foreign agent.


This isn't actually a FARA violation. It's worse.

22 USC 611 (FARA) is a documentary requirement and (if you lie) can carry a 5-year sentence.

Barrack was charged with the "espionage lite" statute for people working on behalf of a foreign power: law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18…
This one carries up to a 10-year penalty.

One reason I said, "what a coincidence" is that this week I'm writing about Republican lawbreaking.

But who the heck can keep up?

Read 9 tweets
20 Jul
I haven't really wanted to weigh into this, but the idea that people commit crimes because they think (or know) they won't be held accountable does not hold up to the research on deterrence and punishment.

I can dig up the research on whether punishment actually works as a deterrent. I don't have it at my fingertips, but I've written about it.

About this administration not holding "anyone" accountable, who is bringing all those charges against the insurrectionists?

One of the pillars of democracy is prosecutorial discretion.

You can read about it here: findlaw.com/criminal/crimi…

I have spent much of my professional life frustrated at the charges prosecutors choose to bring. As a defense lawyer, I've rarely agreed.

Read 9 tweets
18 Jul
Here I expanded on some ideas I tweeted about this week:
🔹Are we too far gone?
🔹Will the GOP succeed in unraveling 100 years of progress?

I did something different in this video. I’m not on the screen; instead, you can read the text.
You don’t get to see my pretty green office, but this was a lot easier for me to put together.

I put the transcription on my blog, here: terikanefield.com/are-we-too-far…
I expanded on this thread, adding more reasons people (well, Democrats and people left-of-center) who are following politics closely often feel panic and despair.

Read 4 tweets
13 Jul
Yes, because Republican policies are unpopular. If the discussion is fact or policy based Republicans
will lose, so they need to keep everyone riled up.
The right-wing is only part of the reason you're exhausted.

Stick with me here.

The right-wing has to create an endless cycle of crises because they have no other way to 'govern.' They have to keep their supporters scared and you outraged . . .

. . . which creates a feedback loop of sorts. When the left is outraged, the right gets stoked.

The other problem is social media algorithsm.

If I tweet: "Democracy is hanging by a thread! We don't have much time! This is a crisis!" I will get lots of clicks.
Read 21 tweets
11 Jul
Yes, and the 'kompromat' theory gives them way too much credit. It assumes that if not for kompromat, they'd do the right thing.

And it's not like they hide their cheating.

The kompromat theory is reverse projection. Good people can't believe they do this stuff willingly.

It isn't kompromat. It's what @ruthbenghiat describes in her book.

Once a politician does anything to help or shield a Trump-type leader, they have a hard time pulling back. They get roped in. I'll put the screenshot in the next tweet.
From her book, Strongmen: From Mussolini to the present\

Once they help him in any way, they can feel stuck. It's hard to back out because they've now alienated everyone except the hardcore extremists.

I felt that way when Hawley punched his fist toward the crowd that day . . .
Read 4 tweets
11 Jul
Since the indictment was filed against the Trump Org. and Allen Weisselberg, there’s been lots of media spin and lying (and some misunderstanding) about the indictment.

Here I dissect the lies (and misunderstandings) and why they matter.

Here’s an edited transcription if you prefer to read:

I'll come back after a bit more ☕️ and write a Twitter Summary hitting the main points.

Last week I talked about the bogus legal defenses being offered on behalf of the Trump Org and Weisselberg.

It’s easy to mock the stupid legal arguments offered by Team Trump. He usually loses in court. He lost all those elections cases.

Read 24 tweets
5 Jul
An observation about the Trump Org indictment: The criminal scheme was described as ongoing as of June 30, 2021.

Even when they knew they were being investigated, they kept cheating.
The arrogance is stunning. I did a brief stint years ago in a firm that represented white-collar clients, and I did see that attitude. They thought they were "pushing the envelope" and it was no big deal.

A task of the lawyers was to persuade them that they were in big trouble.
I think this is exactly right. It's the only way he has ever earned money. The Trumps don't add value. They take advantage of situations. He floats on debt; he borrows against assets he inflates. His "product" is his "brand."

He thinks he's clever.

Read 4 tweets
5 Jul
I've been thinking about this defense of the Trump Org. by the National Review, which dovetails with Trump's monologue about how not paying taxes on tuition for grandchildren is no big deal.

Ignore the lies in this piece for a moment and consider the underlying argument. . .
It's about what kind of laws we should have and the purpose of the criminal justice system.

It's the idea behind MAGA: Take America back to the time when [white] men could cheat (the 1890s).

When Trump breaks the laws they don't think should exist, his supporters cheer.

The criminal justice system as existed before the 1960s really had the purpose of putting Black men in jail. It was a way of getting around the 13th Amendment (which gave an exception to forced labor: conviction for a crime).

Read 8 tweets
4 Jul
Ever since the Trump Org / Weisselberg Indictment was filed, I've been tweeting about some of the [bogus] defenses being put forward in the media.

I gathered my thoughts and put them into a video.
I'll post an edited transcript shortly.

Here's an edited transcription: terikanefield.com/the-trump-orga…

The video was a bit longer than my usual video (almost 16 minutes!)

But it's totally not my fault!
It's because there are so many bogus defenses out there.

By amazing coincidence, I talked about this one in my video.

But I don't think people like this ⤵️are actually interested in the difference between political prosecution (which abandons rule of law) and rule of law prosecution (grounded in facts and evidence).

Read 9 tweets
2 Jul
I'm skeptical about the idea that Weisselberg's testimony is necessary to establish criminal intent (for Trump and his kids).

Just look at Trump's history.

Circumstantial evidence is often used to prove criminal intent. law.cornell.edu/wex/intent
Depends on what you mean by "really hard."

Prisons are filled with people who were convicted based on circumstantial evidence.

Unless a person confesses, you need some circumstantial evidence.

Testimony also isn't 100% reliable.
Witnesses don't always tell the truth.
Juries don't always believe the witness.
Witnesses who "flip" were usually involved in the criminal scheme, so their testimony can also be suspect.

Documentary evidence is harder to discredit. Witnesses can help connect the dots.
Read 7 tweets
2 Jul
Notice that this is not a denial.

@DonaldJTrumpJr does not say that allegations are not true.

He says the Trump Org has been singled out. This is the "selective prosecution" defense, and there are multiple problems with it.

🔹It's based on the cynical idea (and lie) that everyone cheats.

The indictment documented shocking, ongoing, shameless cheating, including juggling the books and falifying records

🔹"Everyone does it" or "someone did worse" are not legal defenses.

In our Washington Post piece yesterday, @reichellaw
and I explain.

If 20 people are speeding down the highway, and you're the only one pulled over, you get a ticket. There was no law enforcement misconduct.

Read 21 tweets
1 Jul
Weisselberg was "one of the largest individual beneficiaries" of the criminal scheme.

So there were others.
He wasn't even necessarily the largest beneficiary.

Today, those others are probably having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
I should do this as a thread.

This is important: The scheme is systematic and ongoing. In other words, we're not talking about a few isolated incidents, but pervasive over a period of years.

This is my surprised face. [sarcasm]
The defendants "and others."

The scheme was to compensate Weisselberg "and other Trump organization executives. . . " off the books.

It's hard to believe those others get to skate free. There's just too much noise in here about them.
Read 14 tweets